EAP Corner

Getting Back to Nature

May is one of my favorite months.  For many it says spring is here.  The temperatures are warmer. The vegetation is greening. The children are looking forward to that last day of school. There are graduations taking place.  One of my fondest memories as a child was picking ripe vegetables from my grandmother’s large garden. As an adult it is the smell of freshly overturned soil in the fields of the farmers doing work, rich and fresh and ready to be planted.  Just as farmers work their ground, we too can turn over the “soil” in our lives for a clean slate, new beginnings of experiences, to watch them grow and flower.

Now is the time to get outside and start digging in the dirt and getting your hands dirty.  It’s time to build your own garden and/or flower bed.  Studies have shown that gardening reduces stress and helps our well-Being.  One study looked at the stress-relieving effects of gardening conducted in the Netherlands.  This study showed that gardening led to decreases in cortisol (which decreased stress) and had increased the positive mood of the participants.  (Berg, 2010)

Planting and tending to a garden is a great way to reduce stress, and create a quiet space to find calm in a hectic life.  The benefits of gardening are plentiful.

  • Exposure to sunlight has shown to increase serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is responsible for keeping your brain balanced and feeling good.  It also increases melatonin, which is the chemical in our brains responsible for inducing sleep.
  • Gardening provides physical activity. Instead of putting energy into negative thoughts or actions, put that same energy into digging, planting, weeding, pruning and harvesting.
  • Gardening also provides ways to meditate. It offers a quiet space to work and contemplate and help to declutter your thoughts. It provides repetitive skills that help you to stay focused and clears your mind. It allows a space for your brain to take a break.
  • Gardening helps you to put your daily struggles into perspective. It is a time for hope and renewal. We plant seeds and nurture them so they will grow. Tending garden is a way of stepping outside of ourselves to shift the focus away from our struggles to a focus of nurturing and healing.

Let’s all take the time this spring to get our hands dirty by digging in the dirt.  Nurture yourself in your beautiful garden of vegetables and flowers. Take this time to reduce your stress, free your mind and look at the vibrate colors. Stop for a minute and just feel the sunshine on your face and breathe in the fresh aromas of a May spring day.

Works Cited

awomenshealth.com/garden-away-your-stress. (n.d.). Retrieved from awomenshealth.com.

Van Den Bern, A. M. (2010, June 3). sagejournals. Retrieved from Sagepub.com/content/16/1/3/.short.


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  • Provisional Licensed Mental Health Practitioner


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